Granny Nanny Of The Maroons - The Real Nanny?

by Jennifer
(Jennifer Chatelain)

Granny Nanny of the Maroons

Granny Nanny of the Maroons

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We already provided the official documentary on Nanny but wanted to share this interesting picture and article with you.

We tend to depict her as a young warrior, even though she was also called "Granny" Nanny, so Jacqueline has provided another interesting side.

Truth be told, no one appears to know her true birth or year of death. Did she die young or did she lived to become Granny Nanny?

Please read below. I look forward to your feedback and comments (on the link below)



I've worked many years in anatomy and portraiture, and sometimes when I do a portrait, the person has been dead for centuries, and no one really knows what they looked like. This was the case with Nanny .

We only have written testimonials, some of which are now considered false "propaganda" type descriptions , such as Nanny covered with swords and knives and blood. The English fantasized and exaggerated a great deal, saying all kinds of things about Nanny.

Scholarship today suggests that Nanny was more the brilliant military strategist behind the scenes than actually fighting it out with her Maroon warriors. That is why I chose to portray her as an elderly woman , and not as a fiery young woman /warrior.

I see her as a visionary guide to her people , and I wanted to give her face a mystic quality , full of deep power. I see her power as coming from within : her eyes should be able to look into our souls and SEE. I wanted her expression to show the marks of the deepest sorrow, and yet to be full of tender compassion, as is a mother to her child.

And yet , if you look deeply into her eyes , you will see that it is impossible to lie or be false either to her or to yourself.

Nanny is a Queen , I would say , a spiritual queen. Therefore I drew a very elaborate Ashanti crown on her head, in reference to her original people and the Sacred Stool.

I see her very much as incarnating the values of Unity which the stool symbolized, in her new land of Jamaica.

I also placed a necklace that is worn still today by Ashanti royalty. All her Ashanti heritage is symbolized by
the color of Gold which is woven in the background and " through " her body, kind of like a hologram .

When the crown was finished, I hid it under the simple white kerchief that she wears on her head . If you look very closely at this kerchief, you will see some of the outlines of her Ashanti crown.

It seemed appropriate to me to hide this crown, as those who love her know the secret of who she is, as her royalty is implicit in her being and actions, however simple was her attire.

Lastly, I found a model from Ghana, very possibly the land from which Nanny may have come. I "borrowed" some of her features and then tried to transcend them with all the qualities I have mentioned.

The woman whose photo I used comes from the poorest of poor, and according to the journalist who took the photo years ago, carefully placed her only treasure around her neck for the photo : a humble string of beads.

I felt that Nanny would have approved of my choice of this woman , whose name I will never know, as a model for her image , not because she actually resembles Nanny, but because the beauty and wisdom of Nanny is somehow hidden in us all, whatever we may look like.

That is why she truly is ........Mother of her people.

P.S. The painting came from my heart when I visited Jamaica for the first time one year ago . I began to study the history of your country, and I felt called to do Nanny's portrait .

About Jennifer Chatelain


My name is Jennifer Gilmour Chatelain, born in 1961 in New York City. I went to boarding school in England , and married a Frenchman in 1982 and had 3 children.

I spent 10 years studying art history and sculpture at the Beaux-Arts of Geneva, where I now live with my second husband Denis.

I have done portrait sculptures for the Red Cross, the City of Geneva and private clients.

I work quietly in my studio on projects that inspire me. My husband and I fell in love with Jamaica , and hope to build a small wooden cottage on the Island we love so much....with a little studio for me :-)


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